Villanova Returns a Ton of Talent
Coming into this season, the Wildcats are far and away the favorite to win a second consecutive Big East regular season title, and with good reason. Nova returns four of five starters that make up 79.5 percent of the offense from a team that ranked second in the conference in scoring. Leading the charge for the 'Cats are seniors JayVaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard, both arguably among the 100 best players in the country.
The big challenge for the returning starters is replacing last season's leading scorer James Bell. Bell was a physical guard who could not only score with the best of them, but he was also a beast on the boards, finishing tied for the team-lead in rebounds per game. It'll be interesting to see if these four returnees, along with sophomore Josh Hart, can make Wildcat fans forget Bell sooner than later.
30th Anniversary of the 1985 National Championship Team
This game will mark the 30th anniversary of the 1985 National Championship season with legendary coach Rollie Massimino. The 'Cats made one of the most miraculous runs in the history of the NCAA Tournament, as a No. 8 seed no less, finishing off the miraculous journey with a 66-64 win over heavily favored Georgetown. Ever since then, it seems as if every Wildcat team has dwelled in the shadow of that squad, no more than this team that plays in the 30th anniversary season. What a story it would be then for this team to be the next Nova team to win the NCAA Tournament.
Beyond that, it marks the 30th season of coaching for head man Jay Wright, who coached underneath Massimino for seven season. Therefore, it would only add to the story if this was the season in which Wright finally led his team to the championship that has eluded him time after time.
Wildcats Attempt to Stop Kempton
Much like Villanova, Lehigh provides an experienced roster, as the Mountain Hawks begin this season with four returning starters. Unlike the 'Cats though, Lehigh only went 14-18 and most definitely were not the conference champions of the Patriot League.
The top returner for the Mountain Hawks is talented sophomore center Tim Kempton. Last season, Kempton finished second on the team in points per game (13.0) and first on the team in rebounds per game (7.1) as he recorded eight double-doubles on the season. He was also extremely efficient from the field, shooting 51.5 percent. As a result, Kempton earned the Patriot League Rookie of the Year honor, and was named to the Kyle Macy Freshman All-American Team. He'll most likely be paired up against Daniel Ochefu, which should make for a great inside battle all game.